weather icon Clear

Lawmaker overcomes troubled past

Editor’s note: With more new legislators than ever before, Nevada will have some of its freshest political faces coping with the state’s greatest problems. In an occasional series, the Review-Journal introduces newly elected lawmakers about to take office in Carson City.

After stealing a car and leading a police chase on the streets of North Las Vegas in 1993, it looked like prison was the only state institution for which Lucy Flores was destined.

Seventeen years later, however, she is a newly elected member of the Nevada Assembly.

Flores was 14 years old and involved with a street gang when she stole the car for a beer run. It was just her latest stunt in an escalating series of crimes.

At the time, she was already on probation for shoplifting and burglary. Car theft earned her nearly 10 months in a juvenile prison in Caliente and roughly another year on parole.

It was less than 20 years ago, but to Flores it seems like another lifetime.

"Every year it is harder and harder for me to identify with the person I was," said Flores, 31. "It is a very odd feeling. I feel like I can’t even relate to myself."

It’s no wonder.

After getting out of prison, Flores earned a GED, graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in political science, and recently earned a law degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Boyd School of Law.

She credits the turnaround to advice she got from adults who took an interest in helping her after she dropped out of Rancho High School.

One of the adults was a parole officer who passed up a chance to bust Flores for a violation, choosing instead to advise her to use her brain to broaden her horizons beyond the limited world she grew up in.

"I obviously will never forget this," Flores said. "She knew I wasn’t a bad person. She knew I could do better."

Flores traced her troubled life to a lack of adult supervision.

She is one of 13 children born to her parents. Her mother left when she was 9. Her father was a gardener by day and played Ranchero music at night to earn money.

"He went out every single day and came home with anything he could get," she said.

In the meantime, gang members stepped in as role models, while adults at school didn’t seem to notice.

Flores went from gifted and talented programs in elementary school to truancy and purposefully tanking exams in junior high.

With no intervention, the bad behavior escalated.

"If the student isn’t getting it (guidance) at home, they need to be getting it from someone, or they are going to get it from some dysfunctional place," she said.

Now that Flores has turned her life in a positive direction, she wants to use her role representing District 28, an area that includes her old neighborhood, to help kids avoid the destructive choices she once made.

To that end, Flores says she will fight to ensure schools have the resources to intervene in children’s lives when parents can’t, and work to focus the juvenile justice system on rehabilitation in addition to punishment.

"I was released into the exact same environment I came from. What changed? Absolutely nothing," Flores said of her experience in the system.

"A lot of people don’t realize we have this education to prison pipeline going on."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)